US infrastructure plans support promising outlook for steel, non-ferrous metals

The United States government is under pressure to rebuild America's fragile economy with President Joe Biden introducing his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan with a focus on traditional infrastructure projects, green initiatives and job and community development on March 31, 2021.

The funding of this plan will mainly come from an increase in the corporate tax rate, which was last cut in 2017 when Donald Trump was president.

What sets Biden’s plan apart from previous infrastructure plans is that its focus is on the environment and future technologies, with a transition to a lower-carbon economy at its heart.

The portion most clearly defined as traditional infrastructure – roads, bridges, ports – would create an estimated 16 million net tonnes of steel demand throughout the plan, Fastmarkets estimates.

Fastmarkets also estimates demand will increase by an additional 10 million net tons of steel for social and green initiatives, including water pipe replacement, electric grid improvements, building renovations and the expansion of renewable energy sources.

Although there is a reduced emphasis on traditional infrastructure, the plan will significantly boost demand for steel and non-ferrous metals, sources said.

Learn more about how steel markets are changing at Steel Success Strategies 2021

Non-ferrous metals demand is poised for growth during the course of the energy transition but we believe a potential supply-situation could be brewing. Our initial estimates show that US refined copper demand could grow by an average of over 6% per year in the next five years, compared with our current estimate of 3.8% on average.

Fastmarkets is already forecasting a supply shortfall for refined copper in 2021-22 and for prices to reach all-time highs, which additional supply tightness will lend further support to.

To understand the full impact that the American Jobs Plan will have on the US metals market, read our report from Fastmarkets research team William Adams, Amy Bennett, Andy Farida, Alex Harrison, Kim Leppold, Alistair Ramsay and Thorsten Schier.

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